NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — With prices up and inventory down, finding the right home may feel exhausting for potential buyers.

“Buyers have to be very cautious right now,” said Erin O’Brien, realtor with Howard Hannah.

O’Brien says it is important to know your limits as a buyer. She says your first move should be to find out what you’re pre-approved for.

“You want to know what your limits are as far as your purchasing power, but also what’s your cash to close going to be?”

While sellers in this market used to cover closing costs, O’Brien says that’s not the case anymore. So, what would closing costs for a $350,000 home?

“You’re coming to the table with $10,500, approximately, that you weren’t coming to the table with three years ago, in addition to your down payment.”

If you put an offer on a home, and the owner asks for more money, O’Brien says you should think it through.

“Every thousand dollars in sales price is approximately about $5 per month. So, be wary, am I prepared to lose this house for let’s say $5,000, $25 per month? If they really love the house, am I going to be OK knowing I lost it for $25 per month, or $50 per month? But there’s also an end cap to that.”

Meaning you need to know how high you’re willing to go and set that limit. O’Brien emphasizes, no matter how long the process may take, don’t settle for a home you don’t really like.

“You want to really limit what you want. You don’t want to just be searching everywhere and just trying to grab at everything. You want to know what’s important to you, what’s not important to you. There is a lack of inventory, so it’s not like you have a ton of, you know, there’s 9,000 choices out there, but there are certain things that are going to appeal to you, and there are certain things that aren’t, and there are certain things that are going to match your criteria and certain things that aren’t. You don’t want to buy something just to buy it.”

WAVY spoke with O’Brien about the decision of some buyers to skip the home inspection to try and save some money.

“I do not advise it. I don’t even advise it for new construction homes because, again, one of the largest investments of your life, you at least want to know what’s going on, have an idea of what’s going on, have an idea the ages of your systems.”

She also highly recommends using a realtor.

“I’m not telling you that you have to use me, you just have to use a realtor.”

O’Brien says no transaction is easy these days, and she says realtors can truly be a benefit to your peace of mind.

“There’s a lot of paperwork, there’s a lot of process, and there’s a lot of experience,” said O’Brien.

She also says many realtors have relationships within their community, and they like to work together. That means a seller’s realtor can let a buyer’s realtor know what it will take to get the buyer into the home.

“At the end of the day, our best day is helping a seller sell their home and helping a buyer buy a home.”